I could feel something brushing against my leg. It was a light touch that slowly began to creep to the inside part of my thigh.
I was around ten years old, so my first thought was spiders. It must have been. A spider had to be gliding over my flesh, moving up under the blanket that covered me. I was sleeping on the couch in my Granny’s den after all. The backyard was on the other side of the sliding doors.
This was some curious spider though because it began to sweep back and forth, caressing my thigh.
I opened my eyes and adjusted to the dark. I saw a pale face above me, his hand under my blanket and groping my thigh. He swayed back and forth and began to whisper my name softly.
“Corey?” I said.
My cousin was a lot older than me, a young man. He gave a small smile.
“What’s wrong?” I asked. “Is there something on me?”
He was silent. The silence unsettled me.
He moved his hand and put a finger to his lips then stumbled to the end of the couch.
He leaned his tall frame over and grabbed me by my ankles and pulled me down to the end of the couch, holding my legs up.
I was confused. It was dark and he should have been asleep like everyone else in the house.
“Shhh,” he said. “Bend your knees.”
I didn’t understand. He repeated it and I obeyed. He slipped his hand between my legs, fumbling with the leotard I had also worn beneath my pajama pants.
My heart raced, my throat tightened, my eyes were burning and it felt like I couldn’t move. He swayed and cursed softly.
“Damn, how many pairs of underwear you got?” he whispered, chuckling softly.
And then I felt him move the leotard aside, finger slipping past my polka dot print panties and gliding across parts of me that had never been touched in that way.
My throat finally loosened as I felt his rough finger prob me. This was wrong. He wasn’t acting right. What happened to the cousin that played board games with me?
“No…,” I said. “No, no.”
I was finding my voice quickly. I began to struggle , to jerk my legs from his grip. He took his hand away and looked more bemused than I had been. He couldn’t stand up without tripping over his own feet.
I crawled away from him and bundled up tightly. I watched him as he walked to the smaller love-seat on the other side of the coffee table and sat down. He placed his head in his hands and held it there for ten minutes.
The silence was deafening. I watched him, shaking. I knew what I had to do. I had to get up. I had to go to my granny, but why did he do this? Why did it end up like this? He was the fun cousin. He played video games with me and out on horror movies even though granny told him he shouldn’t let me watch them.
I didn’t cry. My eyes burned but I sat in silence for another five minutes, watching him lament in the dark.
“You know I have to tell,” I whispered. “I have to tell on you, Corey.”
He finally looked up at me. His cheeks were wet.
“No, please. I’m so sorry,” he said softly. “I shouldn’t have went out drinking. I had a little too much. You know I’m not like that.”
My heart was racing again. I hadn’t expected this. I thought bad men weren’t supposed to cry or feel sorry.
“Please don’t tell,” he said. “I don’t have anywhere else to go. I won’t have a home.”
I was scared; so scared of keeping such a secret.
“I promise I will never touch you again.”
I watched him cover his face again. I watched him for twenty more minutes, until he laid down and rolled over on the couch.
I didn’t go to sleep. I stayed up all night, huddled tight in my blanket until the sun broke and light spilled into the den. I waited and saw Corey wake up again.
He looked at me, wide eyed and tired in the morning light.
“Are you going to tell?”
I bite my lower lip. I didn’t want to cry. I looked at him, one of my favorite cousins, and shook my head. He smiled.
Then he got up to go make breakfast.